It is a sport derived from football in which teams are made up of seven players, hence its name. In 7-a-side football almost everything is regulated, and these strict rules are applied in all the countries where it is played. They are also recognised by the Royal Spanish Football Federation.
Each team’s squad can consist of up to twelve players. All of them may participate during the match as changes are made. The shoes used in 7-a-side football must have smooth soles, and the use of boots with studs is strictly forbidden. The 7-a-side football pitches may be either outdoors or on an indoor pitch, but in both cases the pitch shall be artificial turf.
The referee is in charge of enforcing the rules and may caution players with yellow and red cards. In the event that the referee gives two yellow cards to the same player during the course of a match, the player will leave the field of play for only two minutes and may be replaced by another player during this time.
If a player is shown the red card by the referee, he is immediately sent off without being allowed to re-enter the field of play and the team must wait two minutes to replace him. The fouls whistled by the referee accumulate, so that when the team has six fouls, it has to take a free kick.
Rules differentiating 7-a-side football from 11-a-side football
The first difference can be found in the size of the pitch. The radius of the central circle in 7-a-side football is 6 metres and in 11-a-side football it is 9.15 metres. In addition, the distance between the goalposts and the measurements of the goal are also different in each modality. The measurements of the goal area, penalty area and corner area also vary from one style of play to another.
The rule regarding the ball indicates the maximum and minimum circumference of the ball in 7-a-side football, which is different in 11-a-side football. 7-a-side football teams are made up of seven players, one of whom is the goalkeeper. There must always be at least five players on the pitch, and if this is not the case, the match is over and the opposing team is proclaimed the winner.
In 7-a-side football, a maximum of twelve players may be called up, of whom five substitutes may come on and off when required by their coach and with the referee’s permission. In 11-a-side football, eleven players play, one of whom acts as goalkeeper. There are seven substitutes but only three may enter the field to replace other players. The substituted player may never return to the field of play.
Linesmen are not compulsory in 7-a-side football. In 11-a-side football, on the other hand, there are always two, plus a fourth official. The duration of the match is also different for each form of the game, as is the distance for kick-offs, free kicks, penalty kicks and corner kicks.
There is a clear difference in offside. In 7-a-side football, offside occurs on the line twelve metres from the end line, but offside does not exist. In 11-a-side football the ball is responsible for marking the offside position as long as the player is in his own half.